[JPL] Get Out'Tha Ghetto!

Eric Hines EHines at message.nmc.edu
Mon Aug 11 15:21:22 EDT 2008

LV: Well, I hope Eric's comment about jazz not being exciting has the
effect on the jazz programmers as the French taunt to the American 400
freestyle relay team.
ME: Me, too! My criticism of jazz radio and of jazz musicians is
intended to be constructive. I do think that the jazz entering the
academy definitely has it drawbacks. 
Take a look at what's happened to scholarship over the years. The more
intellectuals are housed in the academy, the more of what gets produced
by them is aimed at a strictly internal audience, for strictly internal
reasons (to get pubs on the CV and hopefully get tenure or that next
promotion or that grant) rather than to actually be read and seriously
considered by anything that would be called a public. It's mostly
respectable scholarship. But no one would read unless on a wage.
Too much music that hits the desk here sounds like the musical version
of that sort of academic millwork.
And too much of what I hear on the radio seems to be more worried about
what the programmer owes to the form or what the programmer owes to the
musicians, not what the programmer owes to the listener. That's a
pathological condition. Far too many jazz programmers seem to have no
loyalty whatsoever to their stations and care nothing about public radio
except insofar as it can advance the cause of jazz.
Public radio is turning its back on jazz, I'd say, because so many
people in this business have already turned their back on public radio.
And the people who should be championing the music as an important part
of the future of public radio can't even get into the discussion,
because they know nothing about the market, they know nothing about
audience research and, truth be told, they know very little about radio.
They just know they love jazz, and they believe in the transformative
power of the music.
But remember the Shakers ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakers ). You
can believe all you want, but if you don't reproduce and you don't
convert . . . . there will one day be 6 jazz nuts hanging around waiting
to go to heaven.
LV: The ghetto idea is right as it plagues radio in general, yet I
agree with leaving jazz to "fix" it but to increase radio's reflection
of jazz with a "totalist" format. If a programmer starts by regarding
the history and evolution of jazz as "bigger" than radio
ME: The trouble is that so many radio stations respond to this attitude
by saying, "Wow, jazz is so much bigger than radio, it doesn't fit!"
Jazz Radio isn't bigger than radio. It isn't even bigger than public
radio. And we'd damn well better learn that before it gets much smaller.

Going back to the Shakers: Their God is big. He's infinite. But so
what, there's still only 6 Shakers.

LV: I agree with Randy Weston who said in an interview the more people
exposed to good music, good art, drama, poetry, literature the more
they like it, understand it and crave it. That's the nature of

ME: Considering that mass media has been here for hundreds of years in
some formats--literature, for instance.  Why then is it still true that
90% of everything is crap. If Weston was right, the good would be
driving out the bad. It would seem to me that, maybe, the good is
holding its own.
No, I think we as programmers have a LOT more to do that to present
great art and stand back and wait for it to work. 

Eric Hines
General Manager
WNMC 90.7 FM
http://www.wnmc.org ( http://www.wnmc.org/ )
1701 East Front St.
Traverse City, MI 49686

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http://www.nmc.edu/foundation/events/golf-scholarship.html ) (
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